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Item Number: bk0055

On January 16, 1786 the Virginia Legislature passed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Religious dissenters celebrated the decision and praised Thomas Jefferson and James Madison for their commitment to religious liberty. But, this new found freedom came with a price, a fact that Virginia's Baptists knew only too well. Many of their number had suffered inhumane treatment and brutality at their neighbors' hands. Yet, they bore their reproach with a certain esteem. That is, they were thankful that they had been counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake. According to one historian some forty-five Baptist preachers were jailed for various crimes against the state church in late eighteenth century Virginia. Only two, James Ireland and Joseph Craig, left first-hand accounts of their tribulations. Their moving testimonies of life without the privelege of religious toleration serve as enduring reminders that Baptists played a significant role in securing this nation's religious liberty. - introduction, pp. 6 - 7.